Niles school board spares 15 teachers but lays off 19 other district workers
A motion to eliminate 15 teaching positions in the city school district failed Wednesday when the five-member board of education deadlocked 2-2 with one abstention.
A vote to lay off 19 non-teaching employees passed by a vote of 3-2.
“We’ve just put ourselves in fiscal emergency,” said Superintendent Mark Robinson. “The only way out of this is to pass a levy this November that would [generate] enough money that we can collect in 2013.
The teachers’ contracts would have been terminated at the end of June.
Board member Richard Limongi, whose choice to abstain led to the deadlock and failure of the motion, refused to comment on the reason for his abstention. Board members Susan Longacre and Christopher Doutt, a retired Niles schoolteacher, voted against the reduction in force for teachers.
Moments before that vote, Limongi joined board members Tony Perrone and Eric Lanham in approving the layoffs of 19 nonteaching employees with Doutt and Longacre voting in opposition.
“I want to see more cuts in noneducational areas before I vote for any layoffs,” Longacre said.
“One of the greatest assets is hope,” said Doutt before casting his vote against the Longacre said.
One of the greatest assets is hope,” said Doutt before casting his vote against the reductions in force.
Robinson said the layoffs would have saved the district $1.4 million, leaving it with a deficit of $289,000 to be eliminated by the end of fiscal year 2013, which ends June 30, 2013.
However, according to the superintendent, the classified-worker layoffs will save the district only $400,000 and increase the deficit to approximately $1.3 million.
“If we don’t resolve that, the state will declare fiscal emergency and take over the district,” Robinson said.
When the board voted to lay off the classified workers, a large number of the 80-member audience at Washington Elementary School rose in unison and turned their backs to the board.
However when the motion to lay off the teachers failed, the group sat down seemingly stunned by the outcome.
Robinson said that he does not expect any action or inquiry from the state until later this year. Niles has been under fiscal watch since 2003 and the Ohio Department of Education continues to check on the district’s financial condition.
Prior to the votes, Treasurer Linda Molinaro told the board that the district stands to lose nearly $900,000 in state funds and “another emergency levy in five years will be necessary, or we’ll have to make additional cuts.”
Robinson said that retention of the teachers leaves the district no other choice but to go to the voters.
Neither the superintendent nor the treasurer would speculate on the amount of additional millage that would be needed to eliminate the deficit.
The board will have to complete action on a levy by August, according to Molinaro, in order to place it on the November ballot.